A consultant hired by the city of Los Altos is expected Tuesday (Aug. 28) night to recommend turning the downtown public parking lots into theaters, hotels and outdoor “community living rooms.”
To make up for the loss in parking, the RRM Design consultants will recommend that the city build a new 775-space parking structure and double the cost of parking permits from $36 to $72 a year.
The recommendation is expected to take place tonight in one of the final presentations of the Downtown Vision Plan that started in 2016.
A nearly 300-page report includes suggestions to turn parking plazas into areas for outdoor dining, public seating, landscaping, play structures and event spaces and leasing some out to build an affordable housing development on parking plaza No. 8, a new performing arts theater and a new hotel on parking plaza No. 2 and office developments on plaza Nos. 1, 3 and 7.
“Programmed plazas” targeting specific demographics could include Ping-Pong tables and cellphone-charging stations for teens, beer gardens and bocce ball for adults and play areas for kids.
And the consultants recommend the city look into setting up public Wi-Fi and outdoor electrical outlets that would allow for outdoor concerts.
Other ideas include leveling sidewalks to create “shared streets,” so that pedestrians, cyclists and motorists are all on the same plane.
The consultants have also suggested introducing a free trolley connecting other parts of Los Altos to downtown and building a pedestrian bridge connecting the Civic Center on North San Antonio Road to downtown.
They’re also recommending a roundabout at the intersection of Edith and Main streets and San Antonio Road and boosting building heights to three stories, or 40 to 45 feet, along San Antonio Road and First Street.
A citizens initiative on the Nov. 6 ballot poses a threat to the plan to lease out the parking plazas. The initiative would require a vote every time the city wants to sell or lease city-owned land, which includes the public parking lots downtown.
The consultants argue in the presentation that a societal trend away from car ownership will lower the need for parking spaces downtown.
The council meeting is set to start at 7 p.m. Tuesday (Aug. 28) at 1 N. San Antonio Road.